Home/Main Menu     Site Map

Mystical EEs/EHEs
Record Type: Review   ID: 206

Language and Self-Transformation: A Study of the Christian Conversion Narrative

Stromberg, Peter G.

Social scientists have long been fascinated by the Christian conversion, a form of religious experience that believers say both strengthens their faith and changes their lives. This study looks at the performance of conversion narratives and argues that the performance itself is central to the efficacy of the conversion. Through detailed analysis of a number of conversion narratives, Peter Stromberg shows how these narratives can be understood as a form of ritual, in which believers invoke central emotional conflicts and then attempt to resolve these conflicts by reframing them in terms of the language of Evangelical Christianity. Although the Christian conversion narrative is used as the primary example, the approach in this book also illuminates other practices—such as psychotherapy—in which people deal with emotional conflict through language.

This is an important work for those who are working with or indeed telling EHE narratives. The author is an anthropologist and his "primary concern is ... with how symbol use within a particular tradition can give the actor a sense of self-transformation, and with what these findings might say about how self-understanding is constructed in the larger society of which my informants are a part" (p. 4). He works with Christian conversion narratives and shows how the narratives themselves are a ritual form. In this ritual they describe central emotional conflicts and then use the language of Evangelical Christianity to resolve them. As he points out, the approach he takes could apply as well to other situations in which people use language to deal with emotional conflict, for example, psychotherapy. Or EHE accounts. He attempts to show how people interact with culture to enable them to reframe their conflicts, or as I would prefer to say, crises of personal meaning to formulate a new identity and worldview. Four of the 7 chapters are methodological/theoretical. They are applied in two chapters on dreams and miracles (in the sense of being beyond the conscious control of the individuals involved). A close reading of this book with EHE narratives in mind should prove to be most rewarding, though it would be no easy task.

Publisher Information:New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993. 148p. Bibl: 138-144; Chap. notes: 132-137; Ind: 145-148
Previous Record Previous
in this

List All Titles in This Category (18)

Book Reviews Menu
in this

Click a section below to move around the EHEN website.
Home/Menu       About EHEs      EHE Autobiographies      EHE Book Reviews      EHE FAQ      EHE Network      Email Talk      Experiences Library      Info/Contact      Join Us!      Living EHEs      Parapsychology      Rhea White      Web Links      Web Talk      What's New     

All website graphics, materials and content copyright © 1997-2003
by EHE Network. All rights reserved. For permissions
please contact EHEN's Executive Director, Rhea A. White.

Web Media Management by Palyne Gaenir of ScienceHorizon.

Exceptional Human Experience Network
Exceptional Human Experience Network